Few players in the history of soccer have had such an instant, transformative impact as Lionel Messi on his arrival at Inter Miami CF this summer. The Argentine maestro, along with his former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, has turned the bottom-placed team in the MLS Eastern Conference into an all-conquering force at Leagues Cup.
Messi has led the Florida outfit’s barnstorming run into the final with ten goal contributions in six games - nine goals and one assist. Not only is he prolific in front of goal, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is also able to dictate play from deeper in midfield and orchestrate his team’s attacks.
From the moment the World Cup winner stepped out onto the pitch against Cruz Azul, it was clear he hadn’t come to North America to rest on his laurels.
Messi’s time with Inter Miami has already seen a host of memorable moments. Among his highlights in the last month are a game-winning free-kick in the tournament curtain-raiser, doubles against Atlanta United FC and Orlando City SC, and a sensational equaliser on the road against FC Dallas.
After an illustrious, trophy-laden career, Messi has shown that he can still step up on the big stage and deliver when he’s most needed.
This Saturday’s Leagues Cup 2023 final will be no different. Tuesday evening’s action saw the team seal their spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions Cup with a semi-final win over the Philadelphia Union.
Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men will look to go one better and clinch a first piece of silverware in franchise history, when they take on Nashville SC at GEODIS Park. Victory in Tennessee would also hand them a bye to the Champions Cup knockout rounds.
All eyes will inevitably be on Lionel Messi to provide one last Leagues Cup moment of magic - will the number 10 make it 10 goals in the tournament?